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The Russian and German foreign ministers will meet on Friday
The Russian and German foreign ministers will meet on Friday to discuss means of preventing a further escalation of violence between Georgia and its rebel region Abkhazia.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier will arrive in Moscow following visits to Georgia and the breakaway province on Thursday and Friday, where he discussed a settlement plan stipulating commitment to non-violence by all the parties, Georgian refugees' return to Abkhazia, and to finding a solution on the region's status.

Georgia gave its overall backing for the plan, but Abkhaz Foreign Minister Sergei Shamba said on Thursday that the region would not start dialogue with Tbilisi until it withdraws troops from the upper Kodori Gorge. Georgian troops occupied the area in 2006 in violation of a 1994 ceasefire agreement.

Shamba also stressed that the breakaway republic would not return to Georgian rule. He also agreed to the return of a limited number of Georgian refugees.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday that refugees' return to Abkhazia was unrealistic at this point, and that the sides should first sign an agreement not to use force.

Georgia has accused Russia of fueling tensions in the region with the aim of annexing Abkhazia and South Ossetia, another breakaway province. Tbilisi seeks to replace Russia-led peacekeepers in the conflict zones with international contingents.

Moscow has rejected the accusations, saying, it its turn, that Tbilisi plans to seize the regions. Both countries have accused each other of building up troops in the area.


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